I had a couple hours free this morning and was finally able to read through my copy of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (Wiley, 2009.) I had been carrying my copy of the book around for weeks, so was finally glad to get a chance to read it.
I enjoyed reading it. The style was conversational and easy to follow. The book made good use of examples from various areas (leaning heavily towards video game analogies and examples), with a good dose of personal anecdote and experience from each author in there as well.
What pleased me the most about this book is that the concepts and principles Brogan & Smith discuss such as being helpful, being seen as “one of us”, sharing value first, and using your growing networks to connect people more fully with each other- these are all concepts I agree with and try to model in my social network participation.
I also liked the reminder about applying leverage and the focus on findings ways to accomplish your goals easier and faster. As an early adopter of technology, I was glad to get support for the idea that early adopters tend to have advantages over people who adopt new technology later.
The book is about 250 pages, and, as I said, is easy to read. I was able to finish it in just about two hours, reading straight through. The book is filled with “action sidebars” which provide the reader some strategies for applying the book’s concepts to their own lives or businesses.
What I liked best about the book was being reminded that building influence takes time, but is so worth it. I studied the theory of social capital pretty extensively in graduate school, and social media is really about building and benefiting from social capital.
Social capital is not exactly the same as money in the bank, but it is a form of currency. Brogan & Smith remind us that every favor extended is eventually repaid. So, to the extent you can assist people in reaching their goals, understand how your actions ripple out into the pool of your contacts, and focus on building value in every exchange, you’re on your way to becoming a trust agent.